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Marie Windsor, ’50s femme fatale and John Wayne co-star, was warned to repent for playing evil on screen: book

Marie Windsor was so convincing at playing bad that many people thought the devil would get her.
The actress, who was crowned “Queen of the B’s” for starring in numerous film noirs, Westerns and low-budget flicks, is now the subject of a book recently written by Denise Noe titled “A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing: The Life of Marie Windsor.” The biography, written with the blessing of Windsor’s son Rick Hupp, explores Windsor’s humble beginnings in Utah, her rise in Hollywood and how she was unlike the villains she famously played on-screen.
Windsor passed away in 2000 at age 80.

Denise Noe has written a book on the life and career of actress Marie Windsor titled "A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing."

Denise Noe has written a book on the life and career of actress Marie Windsor titled “A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing.” (BearManor Media)

“Marie Windsor contributed so very much to the entertainment industry,” Noe told Fox News Digital. “She didn’t have a messy private life, but she still had a very interesting life. She did a lot of important movies. And I was surprised that no one had written a biography on her yet. Before I decided to write the book, I wanted to make sure that her son would cooperate. I also talked to some people who worked with Marie – some are no longer with us – but they gave wonderful accounts of her life. I felt it was important to share.”

Marie Windsor made her mark in Westerns and film noirs.

Marie Windsor made her mark in Westerns and film noirs. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

“Part of the reason why she isn’t as well known today was that she was the ‘Queen of the B’s,’” Noe shared. “She wasn’t often in A-list movies. She also wasn’t in the tabloids – she did not have the sensational private life that some other stars had at the time. The reason why the title is ‘A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing’ is because she was a very ethical, kind person who often played very evil characters.”
Windsor’s story starts in Marysvale, Utah, a small farming community where she was born Emily Marie Bertelsen in 1919. At age 11, her parents would drive 30 miles over dirt roads just so she could take acting lessons. After winning two local beauty pageants and focusing on drama at Brigham Young University, Windsor’s parents drove their daughter to Hollywood, where she studied with no-nonsense acting instructor Maria Ouspenskaya.

Marie Windsor, circa 1950, resided at the Hollywood Studio Club, whose residents included Marilyn Monroe and Donna Reed.

Marie Windsor, circa 1950, resided at the Hollywood Studio Club, whose residents included Marilyn Monroe and Donna Reed. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

During the day, Windsor was at the Hollywood Studio Club, whose residents included Marilyn Monroe and Donna Reed. At night, she worked as a cigarette girl at the Mocambo nightclub. While she made her film debut in 1941’s “All-American Coed,” it wouldn’t be until the ‘50s that Windsor began skyrocketing to fame. She both terrified and delighted audiences in subsequent roles as “the blunt, beautiful dame with the bedroom eyes who was rotten to the core and didn’t care who knew it,” The New York Times reported.
It turned out many, to her horror, insisted Windsor was the real deal.
“People would send her actual copies of the Bible where they underlined the sins her characters had committed,” Noe explained. “Sometimes they would just send her Bible verses with letters warning her to repent, or she would go to hell. It may sound kind of funny today that these people couldn’t tell the distinction between the character and the performer, but she was really scared. She was very disturbed and frightened by what these letters had to say and how they were written. She had to turn some of those materials over to the police because people were confusing her for being the gangster moll, the gunslinger, this evil femme fatale.”

Marie Windsor was so good at playing bad she started receiving handwritten letters warning her that she needed to repent quickly.

Marie Windsor was so good at playing bad she started receiving handwritten letters warning her that she needed to repent quickly. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“The fact that people were sending Bibles to her and underlining what they felt she had done wrong really frightened her,” Noe continued. “It indicated that the person was seeing her as this evil person. But Marie wasn’t like any of the characters she played. Luckily, she wasn’t the victim of any stalkers.”
Windsor once told Classic Images, a film magazine: “Fans would send me Bibles with specific verses underscored and accompanied by handwritten warnings that the devil would get me and I’d go to hell if I didn’t reform.”
Windsor was concerned about being typecast as “a dragon lady,” which compelled her to go under the knife.

Marie Windsor, worried about being typecast, went under the knife to soften her features.

Marie Windsor, worried about being typecast, went under the knife to soften her features. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“It was one of the reasons she had a nose job,” said Noe. “It wasn’t that much of a nose job – it was really to remove a bump on her nose. But she thought this will help her get more sympathetic parts. She would later say that she sometimes regretted getting that nose job because she thought maybe it had done the opposite. But the thing about Marie is that she had very large eyes that looked sort of predatory with a very sensual mouth. She was tall – at 5 foot 9, she would tower over her male co-stars. And those were some of the things that made her a femme fatale, a gunslinger. It wouldn’t be until later that she played maternal roles or the loving housewife.”

Charles McGraw, left, Marie Windsor and Don Beddoe in a scene from director Richard Fleischer's 1952 film "The Narrow Margin."

Charles McGraw, left, Marie Windsor and Don Beddoe in a scene from director Richard Fleischer’s 1952 film “The Narrow Margin.” (RKO Radio Pictures/Getty Images)

There was one star she quickly impressed on set – John Wayne. They did three films together: 1949’s “The Fighting Kentuckian,” 1953’s “Trouble Along the Way” and 1973’s “Cahill U.S. Marshal.”
“She liked John Wayne,” said Noe. “She always said he was really nice to work with. She really enjoyed working with him. And I think that one of the reasons she got so many Western parts was that she had experience as a horsewoman. She had ridden horses during her upbringing in Utah. She was comfortable on a horse and knew how to twirl a gun, but also appeared ultra feminine and desirable. She described how John Wayne played a version of himself, so his persona was pretty close to him as a person.”

John Wayne and Marie Windsor on the set of "Cahill U.S. Marshal," directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, on Nov. 29, 1972, in Los Angeles, California.

John Wayne and Marie Windsor on the set of “Cahill U.S. Marshal,” directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, on Nov. 29, 1972, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“She did remark that John Garfield and George Raft were the only two male actors she worked with who weren’t bothered by the fact she was taller than they were,” Noe pointed out. “She complimented them for being secure enough that they weren’t bothered by it. Her height was often disguised in films. She would do special tricks, like dancing with her knees bent in a scene, so she wasn’t towering over her male co-star.”
Windsor also worked with a young Stanley Kubrick in 1956’s “The Killing.”
“She loved Stanley Kubrick,” said Noe. “She found him to be very kind, patient and sensitive. She really enjoyed working with him. She respected him as a director who had an eye for detail. She thought he was just brilliant. And he respected her greatly.”

Elisha Cook Jr. as George Peatty with Marie Windsor as his wife Sherry, in a still from the 1956 film "The Killing," directed by Stanley Kubrick for United Artists.

Elisha Cook Jr. as George Peatty with Marie Windsor as his wife Sherry, in a still from the 1956 film “The Killing,” directed by Stanley Kubrick for United Artists. (United Artists/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

But Windsor’s greatest role was that of mom. At one point, she put her Hollywood career on hold to completely devote herself to motherhood.
“She loved it,” Noe explained. “She went back to taking on roles pretty soon, but all the evidence suggests that she had a successful home life. She loved being a homemaker and taking care of her son. She was also very involved in raising her stepson. Her son told me she always wanted to be in the kitchen making meals for them. She thrived in her domestic life.”

Actresses Chili Williams, left, and Marie Windsor prepare a spaghetti dish. They co-starred in the 1950 film "Frenchie."

Actresses Chili Williams, left, and Marie Windsor prepare a spaghetti dish. They co-starred in the 1950 film “Frenchie.” (Graphic House/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Windsor led a successful acting career and served as a director for the Screen Actors Guild for 25 years. She also made guest appearances on more than 100 TV shows, including ”Gunsmoke” and ”Murder, She Wrote,” The New York Times reported. But during her final years, she was at peace as a homemaker and painter.

Marie Windsor attends the Sixth Annual Golden Boot Awards on Aug. 19, 1988, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Westwood, California. She was married to actor Jack Hupp from 1954 until her death in 2000.

Marie Windsor attends the Sixth Annual Golden Boot Awards on Aug. 19, 1988, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Westwood, California. She was married to actor Jack Hupp from 1954 until her death in 2000. (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“Marie Windsor was an excellent femme fatale, but if you study her work, you can’t help but be amazed by her versatility,” said Noe. “She would transform herself into these characters. And yet, she was incredibly kind and supportive on set. I think the stars of today can learn so much from her. I hope after this book, people will think more of her when they think of old Hollywood.”

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John Wayne

John Wayne Pushed Through a Severe Injury to Ensure ‘The Train Robbers’ Premiered on Schedule

John Wayne is known around the world as one of the most iconic cowboys of all time. Decades after his death, John Wayne continues to be praised for his nearly 200 unforgettable appearances in film and television. And though his larger-than-life presence, good looks, and husky voice took him far in Hollywood, it was his commitment to his films that led to John Wayne playing such a large role in cinema history.

The Duke began his career in 1926. As time went on, the stoic superstar developed a reputation as a stunt man. Many of his Westerns involved action-heavy scenes, and the technology to make stunt work easier to fake didn’t yet exist. As such, many legendary John Wayne films were extremely physically demanding.

Hiring a stunt man was an option used by many in Hollywood. But The Duke refused. Instead, he insisted on doing his stunts himself. Though this was an admirable step to take, it led to many injuries for Wayne throughout his career.

The audience knew that the hero would win in the end, but reaching victory often involved getting punched, kicked, shot, and stabbed along the way. He was even blown up and crushed by a bulldozer (on separate occasions, of course).

John Wayne Filmed ‘The Train Robbers’ With Broken Ribs

Perhaps the most horrifying injury of John Wayne’s career occurred on the set of the 1973 Western The Train Robbers. In the film, Wayne plays the starring role of Lane, the leader of a group of cowboys hunting down a dastardly train robber.

According to the John Wayne biography entitled Duke by Ronald L. Davis, The Duke broke two ribs mere days before filming began on The Train Robbers. As Wayne was an irreplaceable star, the injury led to a rearranging of the film. Rather than focusing on high-speed chases and deadly battles between cowboys and outlaws, The Train Robbers honed in on dialogue and character building.

That said, it was still a Western, and every Western needs a certain amount of action. For The Duke, it was essential that “the action scenes looked believable”. Wayne was so committed to his scenes that he flat-out refused to work around his injury. “He wasn’t a crybaby,” his wife Pilar Wayne told The LA Times. “He could tolerate pain.”

And tolerate pain, he did. John Wayne pushed through the broken ribs, determined to keep the film as close to the original script as possible. While filming, he was clearly limited with his movements and he appeared somewhat ill on set.

On-screen, however, no one could tell the difference. The Duke still gave a fantastic performance. Three years later, his Hollywood career came to an end, but John Wayne will always be remembered as the tough-as-nails actor he truly was.

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John Wayne

Original Cast of John Wayne’s ‘The Cowboys’ to Celebrate Film’s 50th Anniversary With The Duke’s Family

The career of John Wayne is one of the most revered in all of American filmmaking regardless of genre. Even long after his death, his unmatched contributions to the Western film genre are still a thing of legend.

John Wayne: An American Experience, The Cowboy Channel, Stockyards Heritage, and Hotel Drover have partnered up with the members of the cast of The Cowboys and Wayne’s family. Together, they will host a celebratory festival in honor of the 50th anniversary of the fan-favorite film. The official John Wayne Instagram page announced the event by paying tribute to one of Wayne’s many iconic moments.


“In honor of the 50th Anniversary of The Cowboys, celebrate with members of the original cast & the Wayne family June 24, 25, & 26 in the Fort Worth Stockyards! For a list of events and tickets, head to JohnWayne.com”

The 1972 film is based on the book of the same name by William Dale Jennings. Wayne stars alongside Roscoe Lee Browne, Slim Pickens, Colleen Dewhurst, and Bruce Dern. The Cowboys tells the story of a down on his luck rancher being forced to hire a group of inexperienced cowboys to get his herd to market on time. It’s one of Wayne’s most enduring films with his performance often regarded as one of his best.

The Cowboys Still Holds A Special Place in Hearts of Film Fans

Fans of the film will no doubt be thrilled by the opportunity to hear directly from the people who worked and lived alongside Wayne during the making of the classic film. One member of the cast, A Martinez who played Cimarron, took to his own Instagram account to post a message about his experience shooting The Cowboys for its 50th anniversary.


“It was a thrill and an honor to be a part of this project,” said Martinez in his post. “A haunting, timeless theme, adapted from the novel by William Dale Jennings, brilliantly directed by Rydell. With gorgeous cinematography by Bob Surtees, an indelible score by John Williams –– and a great performance by John Wayne –– the power of #TheCowboys abides.”

The 3-day celebration includes outdoor screenings after sunset on the Livestock Exchange lawn all three nights. Fans will have meet and greet opportunities with 9 members of the cast. Then, A live televised film panel with a studio audience will film at The Cowboy Channel Studio Sunday night. In addition, there will be special installations and reception at John Wayne: An American Experience, a sprawling 10,000 square foot exhibit providing an intimate look at the life of The Duke.

Any fan of John Wayne who can make it to Fort Worth, Texas for this celebration of a beloved piece of Wayne’s filmography should purchase tickets as soon as possible. Relive the memories of this classic film alongside cast members and Wayne’s family with the special event.

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John Wayne

This John Wayne Western Almost Starred Elvis Presley

When you hear the names Elvis Presley and John Wayne, the word icon undoubtedly comes to mind. Although they were famous figures in their own right, they had more in common than you might think. For instance, they nearly starred alongside one another in one of Wayne’s many westerns.

As the undisputed King of rock ‘n’ roll, Presley became a worldwide viral sensation for his gyrating hips and rock-n-roll music. Yet, he also dipped his toes into the world of movies.

He had performed in various movies like King Creole and Blue Hawaii in the past. In addition, he had some Western movie experience when he starred in Love Me Tender. According to IMDb, the movie is a Western set during the end of the American Civil War.

Elvis plays the role of Clint Reno, the brother of a Confederate soldier who becomes involved in a train robbery. The movie was released in 1956, just as Elvis became a rising star. As a result, he grabbed the attention of another acting veteran.

Love Me Tender was the hitmaker’s first movie role. Little did he know, John Wayne was watching at home. As a result, Wayne decided he wanted to collaborate with the rising star.

Elvis Presley’s manager decides on True Grit role

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

As Smith described, anytime anyone wanted to collab with The King, it was “always carried through Colonel.” Presley was at the height of his fame around this time. According to Smith, “Colonel didn’t want him to play … second star with anybody else.” 

Sadly, Presley would miss out on the role of LeBoeuf. In addition, he wouldn’t get to join forces with one of the genre’s most beloved figures. Glen Campbell would instead take on the part. 

However, maybe the decision happened for a better reason. When the film was released in 1969, it was a critical moment for Presley’s career. In December of 1968, just before True Grit premiered, Presley embarked on his now-legendary “comeback special.” In 1969, he delivered almost 60 performances at the magnificent International Hotel in Las Vegas. 

During this whirlwind of a year, Presley proved the point of his manager: Elvis Presley would play second fiddle to nobody, even John Wayne. 

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